The start of the high school basketball season is less than a month away. For head coach Drew Tyler and the boy’s basketball team at Oxford High School, the expectations are high.
The Chargers are an experienced group returning seven seniors. The starting line will show off that age with four of the starting five entering their final year.
Seniors David Dennis and Shelby McEwen will help lead the offense accompanied by fellow seniors Josh Gibbs and Cortez Jones. Dennis and McEwen will play in the four and five spots, while Gibbs and Jones will act as double shooting guards.
McEwen, who gained national fame when he won a Las Vegas dunk competition, is ready to take on a leadership role for this team.
“Being a leader is a big part of my game,” McEwen said. “If I can go out there, and make a big play early, and get the guys fired up, then I’ve done my job.”
McEwen, who said that he loves nothing more than getting a dunk on the first play of the game, believes if he goes hard all game it will help inspire the other players.
Dennis, McEwen’s fellow big man, is looking forward to the season.
“We have a lot of seniors, so this is really our last chance at going far in basketball, which means a lot of leadership out of the seniors.” Dennis said
Dennis is looking forward to playing division rivals New Hope and Center Hill. Center Hill, who put the Chargers out of the playoffs last year, and New Hope, who beat them twice in the regular season, are teams the Chargers are looking forward to playing.
Dennis, however, just wants to beat whoever is in the way.
The main look of youth for the Chargers comes from sophomore starting point guard Jarkel Joiner.
Joiner, who said the team’s biggest leader is Dennis, is willing to take the challenge of being a leader on the team, but finds it tense.
“It feels good to be a leader and trusted by coach, but it’s a lot of pressure,” Joiner said.
Tyler had nothing but high praise for Joiner, saying he was one of the top five basketball players he’s coached at this point. Tyler said he could potentially move up that list depending on how he plays over the next few months.
Dennis said Joiner can shoot really well, and is a great teammate that will move the ball around.
The Chargers will also get some help off the bench from junior Ole Miss wide receiver commit DK Metcalf, senior Josh Yi, and sophomore Hiram Wadlington.
With the state playoffs now sending four teams from each bracket to Jackson, the Chargers were one win away last year. Tyler and his players expect to be there this year, and they understand that in Jackson, anything can happen.
“The reality is, we should be in Jackson,” Tyler said.
The Chargers start the regular season Nov. 11 at home vs. Calhoun City and start division play at New Hope Jan. 16.
Hailing from the Red Clay Hills region of Mississippi, University of Mississippi sophomore Luke Jenkins is an avid sports fan and lover of life. A former musician and baseball player, Jenkins is now pursuing his undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Geological Engineering. An active member in Chi Psi fraternity and a member of the Sally McDonnell-Barksdale Honors College, Jenkins loves to have a grand time but understands that his studies are the most important thing.
Jenkins is from Oxford, MS and took his sweet time deciding on where to attend college. He loves Oxford and cares about the community. He is a member at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford and is a regular volunteer helper at The Scott Center, the school for special needs in the Oxford School District.
As a lifelong stutterer, Jenkins has never allowed his speech handicap to impinge his desire to be a journalist. Now, with a goal to work in the oil industry and edit/write for a technical magazine, Jenkins is avidly pursuing both of his degrees.
The younger of two children, Jenkins is the son of Chuck and Sherry. Sherry runs a homeless ministry in Oxford and Chuck is a computer consultant for major oil companies. His brother, CJ, is currently working on attaining his PhD in Civil Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. Jenkins believes that his most cherished possession in life is the relationships he has made with the special campers at the special needs camp he volunteers at.
Vini, Vidi, Vici